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Scholarship Tips and tricks for upcoming seniors

Phoenix Pfohl
Kyan Meservey, standing with his teacher Kyle Neibauer, suggests asking at least one teacher for a letter of recommendation when applying for scholarships.

As an upperclassman, I have dealt with the process of applying for scholarships. Although that process can be long, tedious, and repetitive, it is well worth it.
The best way to think of it is by telling yourself that you are getting paid for it. A good salary today is around $35-40 per hour. If we apply for a $1000 scholarship and it takes two hours to complete, attach the paperwork, and write the essays, we have the opportunity to make $500 per hour. That was how I pushed myself to meet the deadlines; I drilled this idea into my head. On top of that, here are some tips and tricks to prepare you for applying for scholarships:
Start Early: Begin researching scholarships as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to talk to people like our counselor, Mrs.Kinsey. Many scholarships have early deadlines, so the sooner you start, the better. I started looking at some scholarships by the end of my junior year to make sure I had all the documents to apply for it.
Research thoroughly: Look for scholarships from various sources, including the government, private organizations, and local organizations. There are also scholarships meant for a specific area of study that can be found online. In my case, I applied to aviation scholarships through the MT department of transportation and organizations related to aviation. On the school website, the counselors put on a very helpful scholarship list with links to the scholarship portal or PDF and due dates for them. You will find on the list, local, state, and national scholarships. You can access it by going under academics and clicking on the scholarship pop up. Also, make sure to look at the specific scholarships offered by the college you plan to attend.
Stay Organized: Keep track of application deadlines, requirements, and submission materials for each scholarship. Maybe create a calendar or spreadsheet to stay organized and ensure you do not miss any deadlines. If you do miss a deadline, don’t panic; there are plenty more opportunities. I applied to about 12 different local scholarships, and missed around 3 deadlines. It can get overwhelming but if I can turn them in in time, you can do it.
Customize your applications: Brag about yourself, highlight your achievements, experiences, and goals, and be proud of them. Personalize your essays and letters of recommendation whenever possible.
Create an activity resume: List the activities, in-school or out-of-school, achievements, and community service. Be sure to include all the details, as it is usually a requirement for most scholarships.
Focus on Quality: Prioritize quality over quantity when applying for scholarships. Put effort into each application to showcase your strengths and stand out from other applicants. This step is essential as the process can be pretty selective, and you want to showcase the best version of yourself.
When writing the essays, make sure to demonstrate your passion, personality, and character. Highlight your achievements, stating every activity, award, work, and any other accomplishments. Be sure to double-check spelling and grammar before turning in the application. Have someone with good writing skills review your application and essays beforehand.
Recommendation letters: Establish a strong bond with your recommender and explain why and for what you need their letter. Usually, scholarships will ask for at least one scholarship from someone who works at the school, like a teacher. If you work or are involved in a sport or extracurricular, ask your coach, boss, or leader to write you a recommendation letter. I mostly used the one from teacher Mr. Neibauer, my work boss and my former flight instructor.
Apply to every possible scholarship: Take advantage of the smaller local ones offered by the community. There might be a better chance of being awarded, and the funds can add up quickly.

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